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Black Diamond Impact Review

This lightweight pad is good for long approaches and works well as a secondary pad
Black Diamond Impact
Photo: Black Diamond Equipment
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Price:  $200 List | Check Price at REI
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Folds up for easy transport and storage, smooth hook buckles, padded waist belt
Cons:  No pockets, on the small side
Manufacturer:   Black Diamond
By Matt Bento ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Jan 27, 2021
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57
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#12 of 12
  • High Falls - 30% 5
  • Low Falls - 30% 8
  • Durability - 20% 5
  • Packing Gear - 10% 3
  • Features - 10% 5

Our Verdict

The lightweight Black Diamond Impact is a simple, bare-bones crash pad with adequate suspension and quality foam. This pad makes great supplemental protection with a larger pad or to protect back-slapping low-balls with ease. It could be a good choice for kids who aren't yet big enough to lug a Mondo out to their project, too. While it doesn't have special pockets or features for packing, it's weight makes it a good choice for boulderers with a long hike ahead of them, or lone wolves looking to spare their ankles while they maximize V points on a long circuit. However, while this pad poses no real issues, we think there are better pads at a lower price that fill this same niche.

Compare to Similar Products

 
Black Diamond Impact
Awards  Editors' Choice Award Top Pick Award Top Pick Award Best Buy Award 
Price Check Price at REI
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$259.00 at Backcountry
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$199.00 at Backcountry
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$210 List$189.00 at Backcountry
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Pros Folds up for easy transport and storage, smooth hook buckles, padded waist beltStraps to attach a second pad, plush suspension, sturdy foam for high fallsVersatility, soft, great for uneven surfaces, carries a ton of gearSuper durable, amazing foam, lightweightLeast expensive, compact (small but burly), thick and stiff foam (also a dislike)
Cons No pockets, on the small sideFoam is hard for low falls, stiff for uneven landingsNot ideal for long, high falls, heavyLack of features, doesn't pack much gear wellThick, stiff square cut foam, hard to pack, hinged
Bottom Line This lightweight pad is good for long approaches and works well as a secondary padA great crash pad distinguished by its innovative strap system for carrying a second pad and many other features that other pads lackA unique pad with plush foam and plenty of space for packing gearFor a fantastic mid-sized pad with our favorite foam composition, this is itExcellent value pad with thick foam and no frills
Rating Categories Black Diamond Impact Mad Rock Duo Mad Rock R3 Organic Simple Mad Rock Mad Pad
High Falls (30%)
5.0
9.0
6.0
8.0
9.0
Low Falls (30%)
8.0
6.0
10.0
8.0
6.0
Durability (20%)
5.0
8.0
7.0
8.0
8.0
Packing Gear (10%)
3.0
9.0
10.0
6.0
3.0
Features (10%)
5.0
10.0
6.0
6.0
6.0
Specs Black Diamond Impact Mad Rock Duo Mad Rock R3 Organic Simple Mad Rock Mad Pad
Surface Size (inches) 39" x 45" 56" x 42" 55" x 35" 48" x 36" 48" x 36"
Thickness (inches) 4" 5" 4" 4" 5"
Weight (lbs) 9.8 lbs 17 lbs 18 lbs 11 lbs 10 lbs
Hinge/Taco Hinge Hinge Hinge(s)/Baffles Hinge Hinge
Closing Flap No Yes Yes No No
Warranty 1 Year 1 Year Lifetime limited None, but they do repairs. 1 Year

Our Analysis and Test Results

Performance Comparison


If you're confident you'll be falling straight down, this pad is...
If you're confident you'll be falling straight down, this pad is sufficient. However, its size definitely limiting.
Photo: Matt Bento

Padding Falls


BD takes a familiar and effective approach to foam layering for the Impact by stacking a firm 1" layer of closed-cell foam on top of a thicker 3" layer of softer foam. The thinking behind this strategy is that a firm layer will flex and collapse minimally to spread out impact force and minimize ankle-rolling, while the thicker sub-layer absorbs most of the force. This pad feels excellent on boulder problems where you remain close to the ground. At four inches thick, our tester found it easier not to dab as they might with a thicker pad, and its lightweight and small size make it easier for your friend to shuffle the pad along while you knee bar and heel hook your way up steep and fun cave problems.

A layer of closed-cell foam keeps the pad rigid to help protect your...
A layer of closed-cell foam keeps the pad rigid to help protect your ankles from rolling, while a thicker, softer layer underneath absorbs the impact.
Photo: Matt Bento

For big falls over a body length, the Impact is best paired with other, larger models. A 39" x 45" pad starts to look like a postage stamp once you get higher than 6 feet off the ground, and you'll need to rely on your spotters to guide your plummeting body to the center of the pad. This pad uses a traditional taco design, and we didn't notice any weak spots at that hinge point when using it in the correct, top-side up orientation.

You can make out the 1" closed cell foam layer on the left, with 4"...
You can make out the 1" closed cell foam layer on the left, with 4" of softer foam on the right.
Photo: Matt Bento

Durability


BD has stepped up their game in terms of crash pad durability over the years, and the latest version of the Impact employs a tough, 600-denier rip-stop nylon shell to contain its high-quality foam. One point of concern we have with durability is where the suspension attaches to the pad. The bottom of the shoulder straps are sewn directly to the shell fabric, and when the pad is loaded up with gear or becomes wet, it appears to stretch the fabric away from the pad. If there is an eventual point of failure, this is where we believe it could happen. We think that attaching the shoulder straps at the bottom of the pad like on the Metolius and Mad Rock designs is a better design strategy for long-term durability.

We have concerns about the durability of the lower shoulder strap...
We have concerns about the durability of the lower shoulder strap attachment points since they pull at the shell fabric.
Photo: Matt Bento

Packing Gear


The suspension on this pad is excellent if all you'll carry is shoes and a chalk bag. Because it's light and small, it's easier to scramble over boulders and talus or squirm through corridors on your way to your climbing objectives. A small hook closure on the bottom of the pad prevents larger items (like shoes) from falling out. If you're trying to haul a 12-pack and a watermelon out for an all-day bouldering party, the suspension on this pads carrying system is not up to the task.

This pad's suspension system is adequate for its weight, but we...
This pad's suspension system is adequate for its weight, but we don't recommend cramming it full of supplies.
Photo: Matt Bento

Features


This basic model doesn't have any special mats to wipe your feet or pockets to stash your nail clipper and your boar's-hair brush, but it can hold a small backpack to keep those items contained. The buckles on the Impact do their job, holding the pad folded securely but being easy to undo when we wanted to release them. This pad has a pair of suitcase-style handles so you can easily throw all your stuff on the pad and move on to a nearby boulder without having to repack everything meticulously.

The suitcase-style handles make it easy to move the pad and all of...
The suitcase-style handles make it easy to move the pad and all of your kit over short distances between boulders quickly.
Photo: Matt Bento

Value


This pad is a decent value based on its durability. We feel, if properly cared for, this pad will last for many seasons. However, there are models in our test that offer similar advantages at a lower price, so the Impact is hard for us to recommend over others. It's fine for what it is, but it's not the best of its kind from a price nor performance perspective.

This hinged pad covers uneven terrain nicely when supplemented with...
This hinged pad covers uneven terrain nicely when supplemented with other pads.
Photo: Matt Bento

Conclusion


If you're looking for a lightweight supplemental pad, the Impact will fit the bill nicely. We used this pad in areas that required four-wheel capabilities and a bit of hike for the approach, and no tester complained while carrying or landing on this pad. Just know that you'll need some larger pads if you're going for glory on the high balls.

Matt Bento